Get the most from these college football odds by timing your bets


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Each week during the college football season, Covers Expert Steve Merril looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later and which total to watch as the week plays out.

Spread to bet now

Oklahoma State Cowboys at Iowa State Cyclones (+14)

There hasn’t been any line movement on this game as of yet, but I expect the professional bettors to come in on this game sooner rather than later. This game will show a clear divide between the novice bettors and the professionals, so grabbing +14 now may be the right move.

My power ratings only make Oklahoma State an 11-point favorite in this game, so the value is clearly on Iowa State at the current price. This is also a terrible spot for the road favorite as the Cowboys are off a huge win as home underdogs over TCU. Grab the two touchdowns now with Iowa State.

Spread to wait on

Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange (+27.5)

Clemson opened as a 26.5-point favorite over Syracuse, and some early money has pushed the line up to -27.5 in favor of the Tigers. I expect more money to come in on Clemson, especially later in the week when the public bettors get involved.

Syracuse is not a good football team, but this is a terrible spot for Clemson and the pointspread is inflated based on my power ratings. My numbers make Clemson just a 23-point favorite, so there is value in getting some key numbers like 24 and 28.  

The Tigers are off their huge conference-clinching win over Florida State, so this is a major letdown spot, especially on the road against a weaker team. Wait and take Syracuse +28 or more in this game.

Total to watch

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Iowa Hawkeyes (45.5)

Minnesota and Iowa are similar teams in that they’re heavily reliant on running the football and playing excellent defense to win. The total opened at 46.5, and early money on the Under has lowered the number to 46 and 45.5 at various sportsbooks.

The Golden Gophers have really struggled on offense, but their defense has been stout, especially on the road where they’re holding opponents to just 22 points per game on 4.5 yards per play. The Hawkeyes’ defense has been outstanding at home where they are only giving up only 17.8 points per game on 4.5 yards per play. This game should be low-scoring, and there’s still value on the Under at the current number.

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